Live like a 3rd grader

Today I attended the awards ceremony at my kids’ school. At the end of each semester, they hand out academic awards along with character awards. I had the privilege of sitting in my 3rd grader’s class while, one-by-one, the kids stood up and shared the following information about themselves:

one thing they thought they did well

one thing they wanted to improve

a character quality or habit they did well, and

a character quality or habit they wanted to improve.

I have never heard so much true humility coupled with confidence in one room. It was such a picture of wholeness in these little 8 and 9 year old lives. One little girl confessed that she is not always obedient. Yet she said she did think that she was doing well in the habit of reverence because… she paused… “because I don’t know why I am reverent. I just am.” I believe her. I think she has a great respect for God. Yet she also realized that she could improve on her habit of obedience. Another little girl said that even though she got 100 percent on most of her spelling, it was not correct because she was not being neat. She was not doing her best work. This little girl is so smart and school seems to come easy to her. She is also so lovable and mild-mannered. There’s nothing to dislike about her. Yet, she wasn’t about to stand up there and toot her own horn. She went on to say that she needed to improve in her attentiveness because sometimes she would be talking to her “neighbor” and then she would need her teacher to repeat what she had just said.

Many of them gave thanks to their teacher, saying how much they appreciated her. It just gave me such hope to see kids, at their age, who often find themselves enamored only with themselves, looking beyond themselves to a teacher who has put so much time and energy into teaching them. I was so proud of each of them for their honesty and their ability to see their strengths as well. If only I could harness that balance. I find that I can quickly become egotistical when I excel in something, and I can become negative when I struggle with something.

These kids got it. As one of them said: “I am not perfect. It doesn’t matter if I get all the answers right… I am still not perfect in anything.” Basically she was telling us that there is always room for growth and God is always up for stretching us to a potential we may never realize we had.

Thank you, Third Graders, you provided much inspiration to me today. May each of you keep that great mix of humility and confidence all through your lives.

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